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White Bishop goes missing in Istanbul


You might wonder what on earth happened.  Did one of the many bishops in Istanbul get kidnapped by ISIS?  Fortunately the story is not so sinister and is somehow related to our game of chess.

You will recall the 2012 Istanbul Olympiad was hosted by the Turkish Chess Federation. They had made a special chess set to commemorate this world class event.  I am a crazy guy about chess sets and was over the moon when my friend Mehul bought this set for me together with the book “50 Essential Chess Lessons by Steve Giddins” and an Istanbul diary.
My joy turned to horror when I opened the set and realised that it had one White Bishop missing and it had an extra White Rook.  At that moment both Mehul and I though this is a simple matter and we can always ask the Turkish Chess Federation to send us a White Bishop.
The photos of the set are shown below.  The King is 8.5 cm, the squares are 5 cm and the base of the King is 3.5 cm.  The pieces are not felted and made of tough plastic.






I have now learnt something – searching for a White Bishop is no easy matter in this world.  I have sent many emails, made phone calls and last week we visited Istanbul, Turkey for a family vacation.  Most chess sets in Kenya come from China while the Turkish set has a distinct and unusual design.  I am one of those fussy chess players who hates chess sets that are made up of different types of men.
My hopes were briefly raised when one of the leads told me that he was going to show me the chess factory and I thought that would be brilliant as I could then do a story on it.  His emails suddenly went cold when he realised that I wanted to order only 20 sets and get a White Bishop.
The final story that I heard was that the company that made this particular set has shut down.  That is a sad state of affairs when a chess factory closes down.
I was told to visit a particular shop in Istanbul near the Spice Bazaar and see what they have.  Looking for the shop in the narrow alleys was interesting.  I even found a shop selling guns and machine guns.  I was hesitant to take a photo due to the current climate in that area with President Putin dropping bombs next door in Syria.
I decided that I will buy another chess set so that you readers can share in the pain of the missing White Bishop and also to see the enjoyment of the journey looking for him.
This was the set that I found made by a company called Star (website www.staroyun.com.tr).  This is what I liked about the set;




·         The King is 3.75 inches (9 cm) tall and the pieces are chunky.
·         Nice bag to go with the set with a strap to sling over your shoulder and nice quality board.
The biggest problem this new set has is that the board is a little too small with the square size being 4.7 cm and the base of the King is 4.2 cm. I just do not get it.  How can a factory produce sets with the wrong size of board?  Has nobody complained?